Two Things to Get You in That Rosh Hashanah Mood

Hi all! I wanted to share two things with you to put you in a Rosh Hashanah mood for tonight. The first is in the catagory, “Wisdom of My Students.” I assign my students thirteen mitzvot to do in preparation for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. One of these is to read something Jewish (a book, an article, a website) and write a few paragraphs about what they learned.

My student, Levy Singleton, read the article “Wilderness Awakening” in the Fall 2010 issue of Reform Judaism Magazine. I need to read this article! Here is what she wrote:

Wilderness Awakening

Guest Post by Levy Singleton

“There is a Chasidic story about a boy who left the synagogue each morning during his daily prayers to go into the woods. One day his grandfather followed him and watched his grandson pray amid animals and trees. ‘Why do you go outside to pray,’ he asked. ‘When I am in nature, I feel closer to G-d,’ the boy replied. ‘Don’t you know that G-d is the same everywhere?’ ‘I know,’ said the boy, ‘but I’m not.’ In nature people often realize they’re part of something larger than themselves, the whole web of life.” – Rabbi Kevin Kleinman.

I believe, after reading this article, that when you’re in nature you are in a peaceful atmosphere in which you’re surrounded by G-d’s creations. When you are praying in the wild, you get the opportunity of using all of your senses, you can smell, hear, feel, and see what G-d created and how much power the beauty has on you is enlightening. It allows you time to clear your mind.

“In the city, with the noise of the marketplace, dust from the caravans, and friends saying hello, it’s possible that Moses didn’t notice G-d’s call.” – Rabbi Jamie Korngold. Our belief today is that G-d is everywhere, though for hundreds of years before we had the Torah our ancestors communicated with G-d on top of mountains. Why? Because they believed G-d lived in heaven, so mountain-tops would bring them closer to the realm of G-d. In a way they were right. Being outdoors does bring you closer to G-d, but not physically, spiritually. When you’re outdoors, you have a better relationship with G-d’s creations, making your bond with G-d stronger.

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Can you believe that a 12 year old wrote that??

The other thing that I wanted to share with you was a bit of fun. While I was driving to the synagogue this morning, I was listening to The Brian Lehrer Show. One of the guest speakers was talking about website called Wordle, which allows you to analyze writing by looking at the frequency of word use visually. The more often you use a word, the bigger it appears in the graphic that the site generates. Curiosity won me over, I had to see what my blog would look like. I think the result is a nice pre-Rosh Hashanah meditation:

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by beth levine on September 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    It is not difficult to believe that our youth can have such wisdom, when we note that they have so many good teachers and great avenues of information gathering. I believe many of our youth have great things to say if we inspire them enough to say it and give them the opportunities to do so. Obvoiously you have done so. Kudos to you!
    As for your Wordle meditation box, I had just heard that same show on NPR and you did a great job on your word box. It is a wonderful High Holy Day meditation. I am very impressed with your skill at using the web site. I also love the word box and had to enlarge it so I could really see and ponder all the words and what they mean to me at this time in my life and during this season of the year (just before the Jewish New Year).
    Of course G-D would be the largest, most mentioned in your blog. Does that mean G-d is the most important word to contemplate this holiday season? Well, certainly m relationship with G-d is important, but I think my relationship with G-d translates best into my relationship with my fellow human beings. If I am correct, relationship was another large word. It is important. How we relate to the world, our family, our friends, our neighbors (near and far) is in direct relationship to how we relate to a higher being. After all, isn’t it important that we seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt (and make it right) before we seek forgiveness from G-d? So, while I certainly understand why G-d is the largest word, for me relationship is what took my contemplative time for this viewing. Another viewing may find me focusing on something else.

    Reply

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